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Phuket’s pilot program to reopen Thailand – Interview Bill Barnett | VIDEO




There’s a lot more of Thailand besides Phuket, but the southern Thai island has received a lot of attention in the past few weeks because of the intention to remove quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals from July this year.

There’s a lot at stake as the rest of Thailand will be watching the pilot program, eager to see it work and applied to the rest of the tourist hot-spots, and then the rest of the country as well.

Bill Barnett, from, is an authority on all things hospitality and tourism around the region, and is also a resident of Phuket. But Tim Newton asks him if the July timeline is realistic and if the ‘sandbox’ proposal is likely to happen.


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  1. Avatar

    Bob Graham

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Excellent interview and discussion between the 2 of you , as always . You touched on many of the points and issues that ex pats and Thais have been discussing privately amongst themselves.

    A few more things to consider are the elephants in the room. Is Phuket actually able to procure 900,000 doses of the vaccine in order to have the 70% target vaccinated prior to July 1. ? What happens to the model in the event of another large outbreak in the country? What will be the government’s position in the events that either of the proceeding two events occur or do not occur .
    Always good to take the positive outlook but false expectations and hope could have an adverse effect .

  2. Avatar

    Bob Brown

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    The Covid vaccines (all of them) are NOT a cure as some people seem to think. They are a like the annual influenza A and B vaccines – they only make it less likely a person will become ill.
    CDC : “flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%”

    The Covid vaccines will be much lower in their protection rates, because Corona viruses are new and the vaccines are untested unlike the flu A and B vaccines that have been developed over decades. Also, Covid vaccines will probably be less effective against the new strains, and any future new strains. It will take many years before Covid vaccines have the efficcay rates of influenza A and B vaccines, and they are at an everage of 50%.

    Sorry – but tourism and world wide travel will be a problem for years, untill the world Governments pull back from all the lockdowns. Perhaps after this initial vaccination campaign they accept that Covid deaths will occur – they cannot be stopped by vaccines (otherwise there would be no annual flus). The current worldwide infection death rate for Covid is just over 2% – whereas the annual influenza infection death rate is on average just under 1%. Perhaps when those numbers start to line up things will become easier – it will be a political decision that will very much depend on the sucess of the vaccines.

  3. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Jolly good.
    But Thailand is not open for business as the title states.

    • Thaiger


      Monday, April 5, 2021 at 6:18 pm

      It IS open for business and people can come to the country, albeit with some extra paperwork and hassles than before. But it IS open.

  4. Avatar


    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Interesting if not all that illuminating. So the 16 German tourists who showed up Saturday were actually only 13 and 3 returning Thais. An inauspicious start to say the least. Even so I never really expected much out of the first phase of a shorter quarantine during the low season. The real test will be come July when the quarantine is dropped. Still a lot of questions to be answered.

  5. Avatar

    the man the myth the lengend

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Really another questionable government plan. first of all the visa application on line requires flight numbers and accommodation information that most if not all travelers would have BEFORE have a visa. So obnoxious at times. Do these government officials actually ever travel?

  6. Avatar


    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 12:13 am

    Difficult to apply the definition of “open for business” for Thailand.
    You should add to the extra paperwork extra expenses above what people are ready to pay and extra internment time people are not willing to waste.
    If I apply the same requisites for my business opening I better file for bankruptcy instantly and save loosing more money.
    Open for business means to apply all means to attract and retain customers not discourage them to push the front door.

  7. Avatar


    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 11:21 am

    I think most European people at this moment would already be very grateful if they can go to their own restaurant in their own city. In December 2021, January and February 2022, European people will probably try to ski first in Austria, Switzerland or French. In the summer of 2022, people will go to Turkey, Greece, Ibiza etc., to enjoy the guaranteed hot weather instead of Asia’s rainy season. Then in December 2022, you will see Asia going to get tourists again. So my prediction, another 1,5 years before it’s back to “business”.

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